Rocky uncritically reported Archbishop Chaput's baseless claim that "most Americans" agree with Gen. Pace's statement that homosexual acts are "immoral"

››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

The Rocky Mountain News repeated Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput's false claim that "[m]ost Americans clearly agree" with Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Peter Pace's statement that "homosexual acts" are "immoral." But the News did not note that, contrary to Chaput's assertion, a 2006 Gallup poll found that more than half of those surveyed said they regard homosexuality as "acceptable."

In a March 21 article reporting on Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput's campaign against society's "dysfunctional" sexual culture, the Rocky Mountain News uncritically repeated Chaput's claim that "[m]ost Americans clearly agree with [chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff] General [Peter] Pace" and his statement (registration required) that "homosexual acts" are "immoral." However, as Colorado Media Matters noted, Gallup polling shows that more than half of the respondents in a May 2006 national survey said they consider homosexuality "acceptable."

Chaput's comments reported in the News by Jean Torkelson echoed those of 630 KHOW-AM talk show co-host Dan Caplis, who said on the March 14 broadcast of The Caplis & Silverman Show that "the vast majority of people" agree that homosexual acts are "immoral."

But contrary to Chaput's claim, polling suggests that a majority of Americans are now, in fact, more accepting of homosexuality. According to a February 8 USA Today article (an online version appeared February 7), "Gay teenagers are 'coming out' earlier than ever, and many feel better about themselves than earlier generations of gays, youth leaders and researchers say. The change is happening in the wake of opinion polls that show growing acceptance of gays, more supportive adults and positive gay role models in popular media." The article also noted that "more Americans than ever consider homosexuality acceptable. In 2006, 54% found homosexuality acceptable, compared with 38% in 1992, Gallup polls show."

The Gallup poll cited in the USA Today article was conducted May 8-11, 2006, and the margin of error for the half-sample was plus or minus 5 percentage points.

As the News noted, Chaput made his comments about homosexuality in his Denver Catholic Register column for the week of March 21. According to the column:

Note that Pace did not say that, "homosexual persons are evil." He said that homosexual acts are wrong. And of course he's right. We might question the general's choice to comment in the context he did, but not his content. He simply stated the Western moral tradition. We should respect his courage for saying it.

[...]

Our sexual behavior is never merely a "private" matter. Human sexuality is deeply linked to issues of identity, fertility and new life. Our sexual behavior always has social implications because it directly or indirectly impacts others. Therefore it helps shape the wider culture. This is not a uniquely Christian point of view. Most Americans clearly agree with Gen. Pace. The only thing strange about his remarks was the theatrical wave of shock they generated from critics. In fact, with the good exception of Sen. Sam Brownback and some others, many members of Congress scrambled to criticize Gen. Pace -- despite the moral beliefs of the people who elected them.

The bickering over Gen. Pace is just an icon of wider problems. The sexual confusion at the top of U.S. society now has an echo in every corner of American life. Sexually transmitted disease, child sexual abuse, adult Internet predators, divorce, cohabitation and nearly every other indicator of a dysfunctional society stand at epidemic levels. But very few people want to name the biggest single environmental crisis we face: a multi-billion dollar pornography industry that pours garbage into our homes every day through the Web and other media.

From the March 21 Rocky Mountain News article, "Chaput slams 'toxic waste' of porn, backs general's remarks on gays' 'immoral' acts," by Jean Torkelson:

Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput takes aim this week against the pornography industry and also calls Marine Gen. Peter Pace courageous for his comments deploring homosexuality.

"Note that Pace did not say, 'homosexual persons are evil,' " Chaput writes in this week's Denver Catholic Register. "He said that homosexual acts are wrong. And of course he's right."

Chaput was referring to March 12 comments by Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who sparked an uproar by saying he believes that homosexual acts, like adultery, are immoral.

"Most Americans clearly agree with General Pace," Chaput writes. "The only strange thing about his remarks was the theatrical wave of shock they generated from critics ... We should respect his courage for saying it."

Chaput said the outrage over Pace's defense of "Western moral tradition" is a symptom of how dysfunctional the culture has become about sexuality.

We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.